The Breakdown: Lord Stanley pick-me-up | SummitDaily.com
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The Breakdown: Lord Stanley pick-me-up

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Sports editor Bryce Evans
ALL |

The snow’s melting and so is my brain. Really, I’ve had trouble concentrating – on just about everything – for the past few days. It could be that, after gearing up to finally see grass again in what we pretend is “spring” up here, I was blasted in the face by some sideways snow Tuesday morning while walking my dog; or it could be that I’m disoriented from moving apartments; or that the Cubs are only 3-4 despite playing three games against the Cincinnati Reds.

Whatever it is, I feel a bit lost this spring.

My beard’s starting to get too long; my eating habits haven’t been great; I’ve been trying to run every day, but the snow has let me stay in bed too often.

I need something to help me turnaround everything around.

That is to say, I used to need something to turn it around, because once I pulled my head from the snow, I realized that today marks the start of one of the best things in all of sports – the Stanley Cup playoffs.

I know what you’re wondering, and let me answer that question: No, despite how it may seem from national television coverage, the NHL did not call it quits after the captivating Vancouver Olympics. There’s actually been a full month-and-a-half of play since then, and it’s looking like we’re in for an exciting couple months.

OK, so some sports fans may be a bit worn out from all the great sporting events we’ve had lately. I mean, we had the Final Four, Frozen Four, opening day for the MLB and the Masters all in the same week. It was nuts.

Things are about to get even better, though.

Remember how everyone fell in love with hockey after that Olympic tourney? Well, if people would actually watch these playoffs, I guarantee it’ll make them fall in love with the NHL.

With all the hoopla that surrounded Vancouver, one thing a lot of people didn’t think about – and the NHL executives failed to advertise well to a mass audience – is that it was really a preview of what’s still to come this spring.

Everyone constantly talked about the plethora of talent on display at the Games. Well, nearly every Olympic star from every national team is in this spring’s playoffs. And they’re playing for something they’ve dreamed their whole lives about winning: the Stanley Cup.

Let’s just look at that gold-medal game as an example. Canada won the game 3-2 in overtime over the Stars and Stripes, and, of those five goals scored in the contest, four were scored by players in these coming playoffs: Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver), Zach Parise (New Jersey) and, obviously, Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh). To top that off, of the seven assists handed out in the game, six were from players on playoff-bound teams. (Both goalies, Roberto Luongo of Canada and American Ryan Miller are also in the playoffs.)

But some would still argue that the style of play in the NHL isn’t conducive to the highlight-reel, speedy plays we saw in Vancouver. Um, that’s about as wrong as it gets. Normally, the Olympics is more wide open than the NHL because of one simple reason: The ice is much larger, and teams have to play an open style because of it. For those of you that didn’t notice, the Vancouver tourney was played on an NHL-sized rink. Throw in that the NHL has eliminated the two-line pass, started to make more obstruction calls (checks and stick work away from the puck) and has the fastest, most athletic group of players in league history, and, well, you get where I’m going with this.

Sure, a nice summer day might be what I need to really clear my head for a while, but, instead, let’s put those plans on ice and grow out the beards – it’s time for the playoffs.


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